Right now, on the bottom of our planet, there’s a newlywed couple planning their honeymoon to a Houston Walmart.
“I know it’s so touristy,” wrote CindyLouNZ in a lengthy Reddit thread soliciting ideas for the trip, “but I don’t think we could visit and not check one out for the experience.”
They simply don’t have big-box stores in Nelson, New Zealand, the location from which said user, Cindy Winter, has agreed to explain herself to us via Skype call. Don’t worry, she says—it’s only a small part of the three-week, Houston-based excursion she and her newly minted husband, Chris, have orchestrated for May.
The couple, both in their early thirties, won the plane tickets at a work party, which—at first—sort of explains their inexplicable decision to travel 7,600 miles to celebrate eternal love in Houston, Texas. But then Cindy lists off the alternative destinations offered by the prize: Air New Zealand, she tells us, would have ferried them off on a lovely jaunt to Argentina, a trip to somewhere in South Asia, or here. “It was a no-brainer,” Cindy says of the decision, without a hint of irony. To which we reply, please expand.
“America is quite a lure,” Chris says. “I don’t really know how to explain it.” Coming from a tiny island nation that’s home to more sheep than humans, they’re both attracted by our sheer vastness, how there’s “everything crammed under one roof at your doorstep”—which is certainly one way of describing Houston. Chris is further fascinated by American car culture (check), and both have found this magazine’s food stories very enticing, as they plan to eat their way across town. They mostly hope to sample a bit of it all while they’re Stateside.
Per current plans, the Winters will land at IAH and stay the night nearby. Then it’s off for a few days to explore New Orleans, followed by a New York minute in the Big Apple. But the primary focus will be back in Texas, where they will embark upon a weeklong grand tour. They’ll rent a car and try their best to drive on the “wrong side of the road” as they zip between Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, with perhaps a side trip or two to locales like Gruene, where they can take in that “real” Texas experience.
The last week will be a Houston smorgasbord, during which they will devour NASA, Galveston, museums, and barbecue. “I like steak and ribs and all that stuff,” Chris says. “You have them by the bucketful, I hear.”
We’re excited to share our humble city, of course, but we do feel obligated to adjust their expectations a bit. Only Cindy’s been to the States before, mostly visiting California, and both admit that their vision of Texas is one colored by stereotypes of cowboy hats and twangy accents—which we gently push back against. Then comes talk of the weather, which they understand can be quite balmy come May. “If it gets close to 30 Celsius, that’s a shock to us,” Cindy says. That’s about 86 degrees Fahrenheit, we inform them, and also our average daily high for that time of year. We further reveal that no, we do not have a dry heat.
There is a moment of silence after that bombshell, but, amazingly, the conversation continues with singsong enthusiasm. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip,” Chris assures us. “We’re gonna cram in everything we possibly can.”